A traveler who left Australia on a one-way flight, caught COVID and was unable to return home lost a dispute with Zurich on the grounds that the coronavirus was not an unforeseeable event when he left in September from last year.
He bought the monthlong policy in August last year, with a travel start date the following month, and was unable to return due to government travel restrictions and the high cost of flights in due to the pandemic.
In June of this year, he sought to claim additional medical and accommodation expenses due to his suffering from COVID, and for a property theft on June 7, claiming he was ill and in financial difficulty and stuck in abroad because of the coronavirus.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) said additional medical and accommodation costs due to suffering from COVID were incurred after June 2021 and that was after the insurance period and therefore not covered by the policy .
Zurich had the right to reject the request, he ruled.
“The policy was for one month and the complainant did not contact the insurer to extend the policy until almost eight months later. Considering the disproportionate time since the expiration of the policy, I am not convinced that the complainant intended to extend the policy until the incident occurred, ”said the AFCA mediator .
The policy contained a section titled “Free Extension of Insurance” stating that “When your trip is necessarily extended due to an unforeseeable circumstance beyond your control, your period of insurance will be extended until you are physically able to get home as quickly and quickly as possible. direct route. The insurance period will not be extended for any other reason.
This did not apply in these circumstances, Zurich said, because COVID was not an unforeseeable event when the complainant purchased the policy.
AFCA noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency in March 2020 and that the Australian government imposed travel restrictions later in the month.
“I accept that it was not unpredictable that COVID-19 could interfere with the complainant’s trip, including forcing him to extend it,” said the AFCA mediator. “Therefore, the“ Free Extension of Insurance ”under the policy does not apply. “
Zurich is giving a seven-day grace period to extend or renew policies after the expiration date, but the claimant did not make any contact until June of this year.
See the full decision here.